Recently, many new 3D software startup companies entered the market offering various solutions mainly for industrial users. It goes from decision-support solutions for better utilization of 3D printing, generative design/topology optimization, to workflow management and parts IP protection. Each of them seems to be focused on specific challenges heavy users face, challenges that will only increase in the foreseeable future as 3D printing moves from prototyping to manufacturing.
Why is there a need for such 3D software solutions and what are the gaps they are trying to fill? And where does it position the large software conglomerates that have been the main players in the market for many years? Let’s understand the bigger picture first.
With 3D printing moving towards broader adoption many companies are now entering our market. One of these is Deloitte. The professional services firm that does everything from accounting to tax and M&A also wants to guide firms into the 3D printing world. We interviewed Vinod Devan, Product Strategy and Operations Lead at Deloitte Consulting to see what the firm’s plans are in 3D printing and how it hopes to help customers.
Why is Deloitte entering the 3D printing market?
Additive manufacturing (AM) is a critical component of the Industry 4.0 digital transformation.AM technology is finally at the point where companies are starting to realize significant, tangible, new value for themselves and their customers. Deloitte is making significant investments in 3D printing knowledge and capabilities so that we can advise and join with our clients as they revolutionize supply chains, product portfolios, and business models.
As Barcelona Industry Week and IN(3D)USTRY: From Needs to Solutions Additive and Advanced Manufacturing Global Hub concludes, the future of 3D printing the path to industrialization shows promise.
With a focus on digitization and Industry 4.0, 3D Printing Industry sought to learn more on how such technologies work with additive manufacturing, by attending the IN(3D)USTRY talk “Printing Farms & Smart Factories.”
The following includes some of the insights made by Pedro Mier, Adviser and Member of the Board of Directors at Premo Group, Ignacio Artola Guardiola, Managing Director at Accenture, Ramón Paricio Hernández, Production Manager at SEAT, and Ramón Pastor, Vice President and General Manager of HP’s Large Format Printing.
With the rise of additive manufacturing (AM), a wide range of users now have 3D printersat a keystroke, and can produce physical objects without the use of traditional manufacturing tool and die fixtures or injection molding.
Inexpensive parts for everyday goods, for example, are now being produced with affordable 3D printers and then sold to consumers by individuals or small businesses.
On the other end of the 3D printing spectrum, aerospace, automotive and medical device companies are innovating with machines costing upwards of $1 million.
From the U.S. Air Force’s production of cost-effective 3D printed cup handles and 3D printed military aircraft toilet seat covers, additive manufacturing continues to provide innovative part solutions for military and naval industries.
Lockheed Martin, a Maryland-based aerospace and defense company, has emphasized its 5Ps Additive Manufacturing Model to demonstrate the potential of additive manufacturing in the lifecycle of a typical U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) program.
“We look to insert the right level of additive capabilities at each of our factories to support production and keep our innovation centers focused on development,” said Carolyn Preisendanz, Director of Advanced Manufacturing Technology at Lockheed Martin RMS in an article by Robert Ghobrial, Technical Fellow and AM Technology Strategist Lockheed Martin, Training and Logistics Solutions (TLS) division.
In-house 3D printing has been proven to reduce lead times, improve product quality, and cut production costs. In one such award winning application, Ultimaker 3D printers saved Volkswagen Autoeuropa an estimated $160,000 in the space of 12 months. The European car manufacturer is now on course to save over a quarter of a million dollars in tooling costs each year.
To help others reap the benefits of in-house 3D printing, Ultimaker has released a white paper: Getting Started with Office 3D Printing.
The document serves as a guide to desktop 3D printing, troubleshooting questions of software, materials, staffing, logistics, networking and maintenance. As such, it is also suited to new starters in any sector, from aerospace and automotive, through to medicine, architecture, and industrial design seeking to benefit from 3D printing.
“Just because you can 3D-print something doesn’t mean you should.”
Mike Vasquez, founder of digital manufacturing and 3D printing consultancy 3Degrees, guides companies looking to add 3D printing to their toolbox, and he’s quick to offer a reality check on the technology’s possibilities and limitations. “Just because you can 3D-print something doesn’t mean you should,” he says. “If you’re telling me that you want to recreate these screws and just use 3D printing for no justification, then that’s a challenge.”
Vasquez offers these questions for companies to answer in evaluating whether and where to incorporate 3D printing:
1. Are you saving time to production so you can get more product to the market sooner?
2. Will 3D printing allow you to reduce your inventory, creating more of an on-demand supply chain and saving on spare-part storage and maintenance costs?
3. How long is it going to take, really? “I think people underestimate the work that goes into post-processing,” Vasquez says. “If we’re talking about metals, you likely need to heat-treat or stress-relief that part afterward.” Plus, he says, a secondary heat treatment could be required, taking several days in some cases. SLM North America’s Richard Grylls notes: “If you imagine printing in layers of 30 microns and you’ve got a build height of up to 350 mm, depending on the laser run time and the amount of parts you’re building, it can take days to build a set of components on a build cycle.”
Helping companies with the process of adopting 3D printing is one of the goals of Supercharg3d. It’ll be covered in much more detail in the forthcoming book, and in the meantime, here is a reminder of what others have written on the topic.
Consider a step-by-step approach to implementing AM in your manufacturing operation.
With additive manufacturing taking the entire manufacturing sector by storm, companies that have adopted the various AM capabilities are seeing increased design flexibility, greater supply chain efficiency and quicker access to production parts than ever before. Sometimes referred to as 3D printing, many AM experts and industrial forecasters tout these technologies as the wave of the future. But, before investing time and capital into a complete revision of your production process, consider a step-by-step approach to implementing additive manufacturing into an ongoing manufacturing operation.